Nightlife as a Danish Student
Students go out. It is one of the fundamental facts of life, and it’s no different in Denmark.
Whether you drink alcohol or not, a lot of the social life of a university student is focused around going out to bars and cafés or attending parties.
The concept of going out to dinner is not as widely used in Denmark as it is in many other cultures – probably given the price tag on restaurant food. Bigger cities will also have cheaper options like buffet style restaurants, cafés with good food, non-profit restaurants and of course ethnic food places with great affordable food. Be aware that Danes tend to eat dinner a little earlier than you might be used to; dinner is most often eaten between 18-20.
It is however quite normal to go out after dinnertime, meaning that people will have eaten from home.
Alternatively, you can gather friends at your home and cook dinner together – if you have a kitchen that allows for this. Most student dorms have at least one evening per week reserved for common dinner, which is a cheap way to have a social meal together with friends.
Be aware that it is normally expected for all dinner guests to chip in and cover some of the cost for the meal you have cooked together. This way no one is stuck with the main part of the costs.
When you go out there are of course the various bars, cafés and pubs. For the student community, the local Studenterhus is a great place to start, and the same goes for the various student bars at the university. A lot of students will probably also favour the local “bodega” (Danish equivalent of the old-school British pub for locals), where the drinks will be substantially cheaper than at the fancy bars in the area.
Alcohol is normally served to everyone who is over the age of eighteen, but you should be aware that some clubs might have a 21+ rule and maybe even a dress code. In general, the Danes dress stylishly but casual when they got. There are a lot of places that will let you in if you’re wearing sneakers and jeans, but again, be sure to check before you go out.
Another social option is the party at someone’s home. Please be aware that if you get invited to one of these by a friend or classmate, it’s considered a must to RSVP and to avoid arriving too fashionably late. It is normal and often expected that you bring your own drink, be it alcoholic or non-alcoholic, unless specified otherwise in the event description.
Many clubs and bars in Denmark tend to be open late (until 4 or 5 in the morning) and as a result of these late hours and the “eat at home before we go out” concept, your Danish friends might go out a tad later than you’re used to.
We cannot talk about parties and bars without talking alcohol culture.
And yes, the Danish student life can sometimes look like it’s revolving solely around alcohol. This doesn’t mean you can’t go out with your Danish friends if you chose to not consume alcohol. All bars and cafés will normally have non-alcoholic alternatives, and though they might offer you a beer at first, your individual choice should and will be respected.
And if you do drink alcohol, remember how to get home, and that driving a car while intoxicated is illegal in Denmark.
In general, it’s a good thing to know your alcohol limits and have your bus route and the number for a cab service written down, alongside with your address (if you haven’t gotten a yellow CPR card yet). This way you can always make your way home safely.
Denmark is a very safe country, but please do use common sense and exert caution when going out in a new city while under the influence of alcohol. Keep an eye on your belongings and your drink, and let your friends know when you are leaving the party and with whom. This way no one has to worry.